Ballparks For Sale

Grodin On The New Ballpark Names

A weekly commentary by 60 Minutes II Correspondent Charles Grodin:


I think we better keep an eye on the commercialization of America because it's going into places that I never imagined. Being a sports fan, I particularly notice it there. It started when more and more ballparks started selling naming rights to their stadiums. So now we have - to name a few: a Pro Player Stadium, PacBell Park, Qualcomm Stadium, Comerica Park, Safeco Field, and Bank One Ballpark, which is called the BOB, but it's a stadium named after a bank.

At Shea Stadium in New York, the picnic area used to be called the picnic area. Now it's called the Pepsi Picnic Area. When they built Shea Stadium, they named it after Bill Shea, a fellow who had a lot to do with getting the thing built. They're hoping to get a new stadium.

And why do I think if they get it, Bill will be on a plaque somewhere in the new Bank of America Stadium, or will it be the Nestle's Crunch Stadium?

On the sports broadcast I listen to, the umpires are brought to you by Nestle.com.

The game time temperature is brought to you by iWon.com. And we have the Marriott Marquis pitching match-up. When they tell us who's in the field, it's the Tri-State Ford defense, not to be confused with the defensive alignment, which is brought to you by OTB. The starting lineup is brought to you by Delta Airlines, who also sponsor the schedule. And the trivia question is brought to you by AFLAC, the insurance company. The scoreboard is sponsored by Toyota, and closed captioning is brought to you by 1-800-Mattress. And before we hear the Jeep summary of the game, we get the Foxwood Resorts Casino turning point of the game.

When they bring in a relief pitcher, it's "This call to the bullpen is brought to you by Verizon."

That's a phone company. It used to be a guy would just come in from the bullpen. Now he has a sponsor. If relief pitchers didn't have sponsors, would managers go to the bullpen as much? If someone hits a home run, it's the Dodge drive of the game, not to be confused with the Coors Lite play of the game. Recently, an announcer pushed the envelope and said when something exciting happened, 'Wow, Tom, that might be the Coors Lite play of the game.' So now we can expect sponsorship to pop up in regular conversation.

My fear is we all start talking like that. "You know, honey, the Coors Light play of the game was when Franco struck the guy out after the Verizon call to the bullpen. Let's go celebrate at the Pepsi Picnic Area."
  • David Kohn

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